Victorian Afterlives

The Shaping of Influence in Nineteenth-Century Literature

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst author

Format:Hardback

Publisher:Oxford University Press

Published:7th Mar '02

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Victorian Afterlives cover

Questions of survival were much discussed during the nineteenth century, ranging from debates over the likelihood of a personal immortality, to anxieties over the more dispersed and unpredictable aftermath of particular acts and utterances. Some of these questions emerged in the intellectual and stylistic preoccupations of individual writers, such as Dickens, Tennyson, and FitzGerald. Others contributed towards the cultural atmosphere they shared, in which shifty and overlapping ideas of 'influence' (from the seductive touch of the mesmerist to the contagious breath of the poor) became central to attempts to work out how far-reaching were the effects which people had on one another and themselves. Victorian Afterlives sets out to recover this atmosphere, and to explain why its pressures are still being exercised on and in our own ways of thinking. Moving freely between different fields of enquiry (including literary criticism, philosophy, and the history of science), and written in a lively and accessible style, this major new study redraws the map of nineteenth-century culture to show what the Victorians made of one another, and what they might still help us make of ourselves.

The great strength of Victorian Afterlives lies in the brilliance of Douglas-Fairhurst's close readings * Kirstie Blair, George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies *
... neatly phrased, incisive commentary is a precious feature of this book: its strength lies in such observations, in the author's highly-trained discrimination as a close reader of words. * Dickens Quarterly *
It is perhaps the most remarkable achievement of Victorian Afterlives that this book, whose subject seems at first so uncertain, so forced, so peculiar to itself, should emerge as a significant combination of subjects previously known. * MODERNISM/modernity *
Douglas-Fairhurst is extremely well-read in nineteenth-century literature, knowledgeable about his chosen authors, and sensitive to detail with an excellent ear for nuance and echo. He is adept at collecting strange and beautiful quotations and often has interesting and perceptive things to say about them. * The Yearbook of English Studies *
This book is one of the most impressive critical analyses of nineteenth-century literary culture that I have read in a long time. A closely written and argued discussion of theories of literary influence in a nineteenth-century context, it ranges widely and makes always interesting and sometimes brilliant connections ... This is a major work of Victorian literary criticism, and a book to be read over and over again for its myriad insights and felicities. * Tennyson Research Bulletin *
Close readings unravel the manner in which 'dead' voices haunt Tennyson's poetry, and the author is uncommonly sharp-eared for nuance. * Scotland on Sunday *
Ambitious, delightful, frustrating, wide-ranging, often beautifully written ... Its sheer range sets it apart from the usual academic monograph ... refreshingly free of jargon. * Angela Leighton, Times Literary Supplement *
One of the enjoyable features of Douglas-Fairhurst's writing is its commitment to close reading. He can make a word or line come alive by a turn of phrase which resonantly prolongs its momentum. * Angela Leighton, Times Literary Supplement *

ISBN: 9780198187271

Dimensions: 223mm x 145mm x 25mm

Weight: 1g

388 pages